Latest News Editor's Choice

News / International

How did things get so bad in Haiti? Here's what to Know

by Staff Reporter
20 Mar 2024 at 18:58hrs | Views
Things in Haiti have gotten so bad that Ariel Henry, the unelected Prime Minister, resigned and called for the installation of a transitional presidential council. Prisons and the airport at the country's capital have been attacked by powerful criminal gangs of disaffected Haitians, overwhelming the state security forces and bringing everything to a standstill.

Schools and businesses have been closed, and about 15,000 people have been displaced in Port-au-Prince. Haiti has now descended into chaos and anarchy in the streets, with gang leaders threatening a full-blown civil war.

Civil wars aren't like gambling at online casinos where the outcome is win or loss; they are one-way traffic that only leads to losses and destruction, and the impoverished Haiti has suffered a great loss.

In 2024 alone, thousands of people have been killed, and the situation there has spiraled beyond national control following a mass prison breakout and reports of a 'cannibal' gang hitting the headlines. So, what finally tipped the scales on this Caribbean nation, which has been dubbed a laboratory for imperial powers to flex their might and continue the story of oppression?

Recent happenings

More violence was reported on February 29th as Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has announced his resignation, flew to Kenya seeking the deployment of its police force as part of an international intervention in Haiti to help tackle violence amidst a mass prison breakout. The capital was already in chaos and bloodshed, and all you could hear was gunshots echoing across the streets.

At the same time, well-known gang leader Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier declared that his G9 group was teaming up with other gangs to oust Henry.

On March 3rd, Patrick Boivert, the acting prime minister, declared a state of emergency. Mr. Henry has since then been exiled from his country after his plane was stopped from landing following attacks at Haiti's international airport.

He is currently stranded in Puerto Rico despite efforts by the US, one of the imperial powers historians and analysts point to as a crutch that has in the past hampered Haiti's growth, to quickly get him back to his country to oversee a political transition process amid the chaos.

How did Haiti get engulfed in crisis?

Haiti has struggled with violent political unrest for the past 20 years, which can be traced back to the machinations of the US, Canada, and France, among other interests, in a story as old as colonialism. The residents of this small nation have grappled with poverty, especially after the deadly earthquake in 2010 that left close to a quarter million people dead and the island's infrastructure destroyed.

The most recent round of attacks began towards the end of February when Henry announced that he would not hold the long-awaited general elections until later next year. He was expected to resign voluntarily by February, but he chose not to, which enraged many Haitians and led to the gangs' uprising.

The unpopular Mr. Henry had repeatedly postponed the elections because security had to be restored first, but this only led to more questions and unrest from the Haitians. A history of dictatorships, ongoing instability, and frequent natural disasters have trapped Haiti in a cycle of problems that, unfortunately, haven't been solved even with international support.

Prime Minister Henry's resignation

Things have taken a different turn as Prime Minister Ariel Henry has finally agreed to step down. His announcement came after regional leaders met in Jamaica to discuss a political transition for Haiti. According to a US official, Mr. Henry decided to resign on Friday, but he had waited for an official statement before talks could be held.

In his resignation speech, Mr. Henry urged the Haitians to remain calm and do everything possible to restore peace and stability as soon as possible. For a few days now, his resignation has been anticipated. Henry was viewed as a threat to Haiti's stability, and the Caricom group of Caribbean countries had made it clear that he would have to step down to start the transition to a transitional council.

After former President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, Mr. Henry came in as the interim leader and has since stayed in power, trying to get things in order after the government and its people found themselves in a political stalemate. His authority, which has been long overdue according to many Haitians, has not been fruitful either, as the citizens continued to suffer the culmination of historical and current pressures, both domestic and international.

What's next for Haiti

The country has gone years without holding parliamentary or general elections, with the last elections dating back to 2016. The under-resourced police force in Haiti is no match for the gangs that are now in control of the capital and most of the country's parts as well.

The army wouldn't fare better either, as it is not well equipped to fight off the violence, and without international help, law and order wouldn't be recognized anymore in Haiti.

The violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, has escalated, with one United Nations official branding the situation as "precarious."
The main prisons have been attacked, leaving criminals on the loose. The armed gangs have been demanding the immediate resignation of Mr. Henry, and now that he has resigned, will they loosen their grip on the streets, or will they consider this a win?

It is hoped that the council will swiftly appoint a new interim prime minister, restore order, and host elections for the people of Haiti.
Hopefully, this time, we won't see backroom imperial machinations throw a wrench into the works that will only manifest in yet another failed government.

Source - Byo24News